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Obama, Japanese PM Discuss North Korea, Maritime Tensions

  • Kent Klein

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office of the White House, Feb. 22, 2013.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office of the White House, Feb. 22, 2013.

President Barack Obama and Japan’s new prime minister pledged to work together for a stronger world economy and a strong response to North Korea’s nuclear activities.

After their meeting in the Oval Office, President Obama said he and Prime Minister Abe agreed that they would mount a robust response to the recent North Korean nuclear test.

“We had close consultations on a wide range of security issues, in particular, our concerns about the provocative actions that have been taken in North Korea and our determination to take strong actions in response," Obama said.

The prime minister said the international community cannot tolerate actions such as North Korean nuclear tests and missile launches.

Abe said he and the president agreed that Pyongyang’s actions must not be rewarded, and that the two countries would pursue further United Nations economic sanctions against North Korea.

He said the president also expressed his support for Japan on North Korea’s alleged abductions of Japanese citizens.

The prime minister said the two leaders agreed that the existence of the U.S.-Japan alliance is a stabilizing factor in the region, and will be helpful in settling Japan’s dispute with China over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

Obama said he and the prime minister spent much of their meeting discussing ways to boost economic growth, which he called their number-one priority.

“…and steps that we can take in our respective countries to encourage the kind of trade, expanded commerce and robust growth that will lead to greater opportunity for both the United States and Japan," said Obama.

This was the president’s first meeting with Abe since the prime minister returned to office in December. He previously served as prime minister for one year, resigning in 2007 for health reasons.

Abe is Japan’s fifth prime minister since Obama took office in 2009.

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